Category Archives: prayer

Comfort for a Hurting Heart

It’s been almost two weeks since I’ve written in here, and I do apologize for that, but there were reasons. You might remember the last post I wrote. ¬†https://alisarussell.wordpress.com/2017/05/03/dealing-with-a-chronic-illness-even-if/ For the last twelve days, I’ve been in a caregiver and management role. There is something wrong with my husband, but we don’t know what it is yet. We are waiting on the results of a scan and for him to go to a specialist this Friday. Waiting is hard. Harder this time than it’s been for a while. It’s even harder because he’s our sole income, and we don’t know what’s going to happen. He is working this week because he has to, but I know it’s at the back of his mind just like it’s at the back of mine.

That’s not the reason I’m writing this morning though. I’m writing because I missed an opportunity yesterday. I missed an opportunity to be ministered to by my Christian brothers and sisters. I’ll be honest here. I have been overwhelmed by all the possibilities of what might be wrong, some of them very serious, some of them requiring surgery. Between being overwhelmed, feeling like I have to pretend everything is all right, and having a natural reticence to talking about what’s going on because others are uncomfortable, it was hard for me to communicate exactly how much I was hurting. It didn’t help that yesterday was Mother’s Day which is supposed to be a wonderful holiday, but is not for me for many reasons. I didn’t feel like I could truly express my hurt because I didn’t want to spoil things for everyone else.

So, I didn’t use words like I should have used them yesterday which is why I’ve turned to writing them down. I didn’t know the words to use. There is an example in Scripture though of not being able to use words. Romans 8:26 says, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans.” That comforts me. God heard my prayers and those of the ones who did pray for me even though I didn’t communicate well.

It was also hard, I think, for the people I did speak with to understand how I was feeling because my husband was at church. And that goes back to dealing with a chronic illness. Sometimes, he is okay, and sometimes, he isn’t. When he’s okay, it’s hard to impart that something might be serious at another point, and my feelings are just considered to be feelings of worry which, of course, God has told us not to do.

From Philippians 4:6-7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

I acknowledge the reality of this Scripture. I do. I have prayed it a number of times in my life, and God’s peace has been there. But, when I state my concerns and they are dismissed as worry, I feel discounted by my Christian brothers and sisters. My heart hurt badly when one of them stated this exact thing yesterday and walked away from me. I quit talking then. There wasn’t a point anymore. I left church with my family, and they celebrated me well. We went to lunch, and then I went to spend the gift card they had bought me. It was a good afternoon, and God comforted my hurting heart. And isn’t that the point when we’re hurting? God is always with us, and He comforts our hurting hearts. I pray, if you are hurting, that He comforts your heart as well.

 

God’s blessings on all of you today!

 

Our Refuge and Strength

Psalm 46:1 says, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” I write these words and think about how true they’ve been in my own life. God has been my refuge and strength through unemployment, illness, financial stresses, and through the uncertainty of life.

With all of the noise of this world though, it’s hard for me to think past the uncertainty of the latest stressors. That’s why I think a verse that appears later in this chapter can be paired with the first verse. Verse 10 of Psalm 46 says, “He says, ‘Be still and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.'”

I think these verses can be paired with one another because I can feel God’s presence most when I am still. When I go down to the lake near my apartment, I can feel His presence in the wind, in the water, in the blue sky, in the trees, in the quiet of this place. I can hear His voice in a way I can’t hear it when I have noise all around me. I can hear Him speak, and I can talk to Him too.

I wonder if that’s why Jesus told us to go into our prayer closet when we want to speak to Him. Matthew 6:6 says, “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Quiet and still–that’s how He wants it to be when we pray to Him. I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with public prayer. Far from it. We need to pray to God and praise Him when we’re together.

But, when I pray to God when it’s quiet and still, I feel His presence more strongly. I know, for a fact, that He is my refuge and strength and that I can come to Him any time I need to. When He speaks to me in these moments of quiet, I hear Him more clearly and know the next steps He wants me to take in whatever situation I am praying over. He is there in the stillness, and there is no pretense in how I speak to Him.

And that’s the point. No pretense. God wants us to speak to Him honestly. There is no reason to pretend when we’re with God. He knows everything anyway. Besides, how can we trust Him to be our refuge and strength if we haven’t been honest with Him? A question for us to consider this week.

 

Praying God’s blessings for you all this week!

Prayer

Wikipedia defines prayer as “an invocation or act that seeks to activate a rapport with an object of worship through deliberate communication.” There is so much more, but quoting Wikipedia is not my purpose in writing this today. My purpose is to give you my thoughts and my feelings about prayer.

Prayer is talking to my Father, my Father in heaven. Telling Him how my day is going, telling Him when I’m happy and when I’m sad. I don’t have to pretend with God because, by the time I get done pretending with everyone else, my “pretend meter” is empty. He knows it all anyway so what would be the point of pretending.

There are many ways to pray and many types of prayers. The way I pray best is when I write my prayers down. That way I can remember all of the details and make sure I’m telling them to God through my words. God has given me this gift of words so it makes sense for me to use it when I praise Him, when I thank Him, and when I petition Him. My prayers have also been more thoughtful and complete since I’ve started writing them down.

When most people think about prayer though, they think of speaking it–either out loud or to themselves, and that intimidates them. This results in hastily mumbled prayers, to bless food, for example, or long, flowery prayers that don’t have much meaning. Praying out loud can also be intimidating to people because they don’t know what to say, they don’t think they’re saying the right thing, or they think that a church elder or staff member should be praying. Women also have the added burden of thinking that men should be leading the prayers. I confess that I’ve had some of these thoughts and feelings myself which is why I started writing my prayers down.

I know God doesn’t mind if I write my prayers down. He wants to have a relationship with me, after all. But, I would like to get better at speaking them because God doesn’t care how we speak our prayers. He wants us to talk to Him, and He wants to talk to us. No magic or formula necessary. Just a conversation. It’s important to Him, and it should be important to those of us who are people of faith.

Prayer has become important to me in the last few years because God has sometimes been the only one I could talk to. He has been with me in the pit, and He has been with me on top of the mountain. He has been with me as I’ve scribbled words in my journals, and He has been with me as I’ve said clumsy words aloud. He has been with me as people have spoken words over me even when I didn’t have the courage to speak aloud. Prayer is all of that and more. God is just waiting for us to take the first step towards Him like it says in Revelation 3:20. “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.”

This is the relationships God wants us to have with Him. Close enough to eat and close enough to talk, i.e.,prayer. May we all know the true meaning of prayer!

God’s blessings on all of you today!